“These Are the Facts”

Michael Saward, who wrote this hymn, passed away this week while on holiday in Switzerland.  I don’t know anything about the author, but he has left us a wonderful hymn, one of my favourites (of course, I have a LOT of favourites).  There is nothing complicated about this hymn, but perhaps part of its power is in its simplicity.

The Christian faith is not based on feelings or nebulous philosophies, but on absolute facts.  As Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15, if Christ is not risen our faith is in vain.  Christianity stands or falls based on the facts of the Bible.  If those facts are not true, Christianity is nothing, and there would be no reason for anyone to be a Christian at all.

Christians have always believed what Michael Saward asserted in this hymn.  The first verse and a half are based on I Corinthians 15:3-4.  The last part of the second verse is based loosely on Romans 5 and Ephesians 2:1-5, the third verse on Galatians 2:20.  In the fourth verse, he returned to I Corinthians 15, this time verses 50-58.

There are those who have tried to claim that it doesn’t matter if the Bible events actually happened — if you believe them, they would say, that gives them a reality for you, and that is all that matters.  The Bible says this kind of thinking is nonsense.  Either Christianity is objectively true or it isn’t.  If it isn’t objectively true, and you believe it, you believe a destructive lie.  But if it is objectively true (and it is), there is nothing worse than neglecting it — that brings eternal damnation.

These are the facts, and we have received them.  The reality is the facts, and that is what our author appropriately stated first.  Our receiving them is not what establishes the facts, but we only benefit from these facts of what God has done because we have received and acted upon them.  The author gave us a simple statement of truth and faith.  Now, Michael Saward waits for the trump of which he wrote, when we shall be changed.

These are the facts as we have received them,
These are the truths that the Christian believes,
This is the basis of all our preaching,
Christ died for sinners and rose from the tomb.

These are the facts as we have received them,
Christ has fulfilled what the Scriptures foretold,
Adam’s whole family in death had been sleeping,
Christ through His rising restores us to life.

These are the facts as we have received them,
We, with our Saviour, have died on the Cross,
Now, having risen, our Jesus lives in us,
Gives us His Spirit and makes us His home.

These are the facts as we have received them,
We shall be changed in the blink of an eye,
Trumpets shall sound as we face life immortal,
This is the victory through Jesus, our Lord.

Michael Saward, 1932-2015
Music:  Joseph F. Thrupp, 1827-1867

The first verse is sometimes repeated as a fifth verse, but we didn’t include the repeat in our hymn book, so we simply sing the four verses as written.

We sing this to Joseph Thrupp’s “Epiphany” hymn tune.  The tune isn’t often used with Saward’s hymn, but is often sung with Reginald Heber’s “Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning,” and I believe it was intentionally written for use with that hymn.  (Heber is best known for writing “Holy, Holy, Holy.”)  As an extra bonus I’ve included Heber’s text below the video, so you can sing it along with the organ as well, if you wish.

Heber’s “Brightest and Best”:

Brightest and best of the stars of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness, and lend us thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Cold on His cradle the dew-drops are shining,
Low lies His head with the beasts of the stall;
Angels adore Him in slumber reclining,
Maker and Monarch and Saviour of all.

Say, shall we yield Him, in costly devotion,
Odours of Edom, and offerings divine?
Gems of the mountain, and pearls of the ocean,
Myrrh from the forest, and gold from the mine?

Vainly we offer each ample oblation,
Vainly with gifts would His favour secure;
Richer by far is the heart’s adoration,
Dearer to God are the prayers of the poor.

Brightest and best of the sons of the morning,
Dawn on our darkness and lend us thine aid;
Star of the East, the horizon adorning,
Guide where our infant Redeemer is laid.

Reginald Heber, 1783-1826

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
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2 Responses to “These Are the Facts”

  1. Eric says:

    Beautiful! Never heard it before, but glad I have now.

    Do you know what the copyright status is on the text? Whom to contact?

    And could you share the link for the video? I searched the web and can’t find this particular recording.

    Thank you, Jon!

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